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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

YOGA AND ALCHEMY                          207

have a bright lustre. I did not dare take them, but for my own
pleasure, I heated them over the fire to look at the changes from
crystal to powder and liquid form. Pinchow [Pinyang in Kwangsi,
where Wang was now living] is not far from Kweilin, where it is
easy to buy mercury crystals. If convenient, will you obtain a few
ounces and send them to me? If it is difficult, don't bother, for I
don't need it immediately. While living far out in such remote
mountains you should be on the look-out and may come upon some-
thing exciting. Generally speaking, a Taoist cannot go up to Heaven
unless he has found the pill of immortality. The material for making
such pills is to be found mostly in the mountains of the south. That
was why Keh Hung asked to be sent as magistrate to Koulou, and
he left this earth at Lienchow. So you might just keep this matter
in mind. Chen Tsan went to Kao-an to see Tseyu a month ago
and revealed some secrets to him. I hear that he is coming back
very soon. He not only understands these things but is also a true
and good friend. There are so many things to learn about the Taoist
art, but it seems to rne the important thing is to practise mental poise
by concentration, for, you can believe me, after a period I seem to
be able to feel definite benefits. If one achieves a perfect circulation
of the vital spirit, how can pains and ailments attack the human
body?"

It is easy to understand how the Hindu yoga practice and theories
»were easily absorbed by the Chinese Taoists, even more than by the
Chinese followers of Buddhism. It is true that there was the Zen
Buddhist sect, which specialised in meditation, and which was a
product of the mixture of Hindu Buddhism and Chinese Taoist
philosophy. However, it was the Taoists who provided the natural
ground for the absorption of yoga doctrine. Taoism was characterised
by its emphasis on meditation and contemplation of nature, on achiev-
ing mental calm by simplifying human wants, and particularly on
attaining immortality. In the book of the Taoist Chuangtse, we find
a few phrases of advice on concentration, meditation, and even on
"introspection of the mind", which are strikingly Hindu in character.
.Even if we grant that such passages were interpolated, still the inter-
polations were as early as the third or fourth centuries at the latest.

In no other school do we find religion and physical training so
uniquely and intimately combined. The teaching of yoga offers a
channel to religious mystic perception through mind and body control.
Its field extends from acquiring control over reflexes and usually
involuntary muscles to tapping the deeper levels of psychic energies.
Its benefit is both physical and spiritual. Through the adoption of
certain postures oŁ the body and control of breathing followed by